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FOOTBALL

Germany aim to set records against Belgium

Belgium have not qualified for a major finals since the 2002 World Cup and to keep alive their hopes of reaching Euro 2012 they will need to do something no-one else has managed in the qualifiers and beat Germany on Tuesday.

Germany aim to set records against Belgium
Photo: DPA

The Belgians are presently in second place, which would give them a play-off spot, but only a point ahead of Turkey, who should take three points against Azerbaijan.

Both Belgian coach Georges Leekens and his players acknowledge that beating Germany in Düsseldorf let alone denying them a record 10th successive win in the qualifiers is a tough ask – the last Belgian win on German soil dates back to 1983 against East Germany.

“It is almost mission impossible but even so I believe deep down we can do it,” said midfielder Timmy Simons, who plays for Bundesliga side Nuremberg.

Leekens – who is in his second spell as national coach having guided them to the 1998 World Cup finals but was sacked after they exited in the first round – said that but for a couple of moments of slapdash defending they would already be in the play-offs.

“My players deserve to be involved in this ‘final’ in Germany,” said the 62-year-old, who has had his contract extended to June 2014.

“But it is a pity it has come down to this. Before this game, we should have been second with a five point lead over the Turks,” added the coach, who has acquired the nickname of ‘Mack the Knife.’

Leekens was referring to his side having dropped valuable points along the way, letting in an 85th minute equalizer at the beginning of September against minnows Azerbaijan and letting modest Austria equalize in the third minute of extra time.

Leekens faces problems on the personnel front with Bayern Munich defender Daniel Van Buyten – whose mistake handed Germany a 1-0 win in Brussels – definitely out while more worrying are doubts whether highly-coveted playmaker Eden Hazard will be fit after being given a tough time by the Kazakh defenders during the 4-1 victory last Friday.

Striker Dries Maartens is also a doubt, but Leekens can welcome back Everton creative midfielder Marouane Fellaini.

The Germans have continued to progress since their young side reached the World Cup semi-finals last year and while coach Joachim Löw is ready to make some changes from the side that impressed in the 3-1 away win over Turkey on Friday he doesn’t want to let the record slip from their grasp.

Löw is likely to recall Real Madrid playmaker Mesut Özil – who missed the Turkey game because of an Achilles tendon injury – while he has sent young star Mario Götze back to Borussia Dortmund.

“We are taking the Belgium match very seriously,” said Löw. “Also because we want to celebrate a new record of 10 victories in qualifiers.

“Özil will probably play, and I also intend to play Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gündogan and rest Mario (Götze). But you can’t replace the whole team because we don’t want to lose our rhythm.”

Whilst Löw has injury worries hanging over experienced midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and veteran striker Miroslav Klose he has the luxury of being able to call on Schweinsteiger’s Bayern Munich team-mate Toni Kroos and Bayern strikers Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller.

The Belgians will also have to find a way past outstanding German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who has not let in a goal for Bayern in 1018 minutes and denied the Turkish strikers with some extraordinary reflex saves on Friday.

AFP/bk

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FOOTBALL

British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.

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